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Cats and Coffee: Everything to Know Before Visiting a Cat Café
What is a cat cafe? Are there really cats? Is the coffee any good? All great questions for someone considering a visit to a local cat café. We’ve got the scoop.
Cat lovers across the world have taken over the café scene, with cat cafés and lounges popping up in almost every major city in North America and around the world.
The United States alone has over 144 cat cafés and counting. Seriously, it seems like a new one opens every week — like this one that recently opened in New Hampshire or this other one that is now operating in Massachusetts.
So, if you’re wondering how a cat café works or how you go about visiting one, we got the scoop from one of our GiveLittter® partners — NEKO Cat Cafe.
With locations in Seattle, WA & Bellingham, WA, the fine folks at NEKO Cat Cafe say they are all about creating a “chill space for rescue cats and humans to relax and enjoy each other’s company.”
But before we dive into the intricacies of cat café culture, let’s take a step back in time and look at just where this craze came from.
THE HISTORY OF CAT CAFÉS
In Taipei, Taiwan in 1998, the world’s first cat café, Cat Flower Garden, opened its doors. The concept spread, becoming wildly popular in Japan where most of the population lives in cities, and most apartments don’t allow pets. Cat cafés became the perfect way to hang out with cats without actually owning one.
Slowly, the idea spread to other countries, like the United States, Germany, and France. The first cat café in the United States, KitTea, opened in 2014.
Among the most recent cat café establishments popping up around the world is one called Meow Café, a woman-owned business situated in the Gaza Strip.
So now that we’ve given you a cursory look at the history of cat cafés, let’s chat with our fellow feline aficionados at NEKO Cat Café and answer some FAQs. The first of which is…
Where do cat cafés get their cats?
Cat cafés typically partner with one or more local animal rescues to find cats in need and then adopt them from the shelters. This way, if a café visitor falls in love with one of the friendly felines, they can take the cat with them to their forever home.
At NEKO, all of the cats are adorable (except for a few permanent residents).
The café partners with the local county shelter, Regional Animal Services of King County, for all of the cats up for adoption.
OK, so now that you know these cats come from reputable shelter organizations, the next most obvious question is…
How can you visit a cat café?
Search online for one in your area – you’ll probably be able to find at least one or two in your general vicinity. But be aware, it’s not always easy to just walk in the door. Some cafes require you to make reservations online, while others do allow walk-in reservations.
At NEKO, you can do both, but it’s recommended to make reservations beforehand.
For example, you can book a 45-minute reservation in the cat room with 15+ cats in a few clicks of a mouse.
In addition to the 45-minute cat room visits, NEKO also offers nearly three-hour “Work/Study/Purr” sessions, private parties, and even cat yoga sessions.
While there is a fee for reservations, all of the money helps offset the price of food, litter, and medical care for the cats. In some areas, the fee may also assist in paying to rent the café space.
Lastly, if you’re interested in adoption, a cafe like NEKO encourages visitors to book a reservation and chat with a “Cat Bouncer” about which cat might be the best fit. Once you meet a match, you complete an adoption application and cross your paws! Even more info about NEKO’s adoption process can be found here.
Now that you know what getting there entails, the next most logical question is…
What should you wear?
There’s usually no dress code when you visit a café, but these items may make your visit a little more comfortable:
- Shoes that slip on and off, in case they aren’t allowed in the cat lounge area.
- Long sleeves – If you’re playing with cats you might get scratched.
- Anything you don’t mind being covered in cat hair.
You’ve got your outfit on and you’re ready to go. Here’s what to expect:
What to expect when you visit a cat café?
Get ready to have a lot of fun looking at, playing with, and petting cats. You might even get to sip on a cup of joe or a glass of wine while you do it too.
While most cafés keep 5-20 cats at a time — often times these cats are
Cats need to sleep around 15 hours a day, so it’s likely that a few of them will be snoozing while you’re there. However, there will also be a bunch that are awake and looking for playtime and snuggles.
While an hour to play might seem like a long time, it’ll be over just as soon as you’ve won over that standoffish cat that finally let you pet him, and you’ll absolutely hate to leave.
At NEKO’s Seattle café, for example, the cat room is separate from the bar, so visitors can go in for a drink and a snack anytime with or without a cat room reservation. In their Bellingham cafe, the bar is IN the cat room! This allows visitors to check in with the “pawtender” upon entry and enjoy some drinks or snacks during your reservation.
In both NEKO cafés, there’s a space for anybody to gaze at the kitties in the windows and sip a drink, as well as a cat room where the cats are just walking around!
And the most important thing to know about cat cafés is…you can always go back. With the cat cafés culture gaining steam in almost every corner of the world — you’re bound to find one close by no matter where you live.
And finally, one last piece of advice from our friends at NEKO Cat Cafe:
“Get ready fur all types of cat purrsonalities! Whether they’re supurr social, playful, sleepy, or still getting used to the attention: it’s worth going slow and asking questions to the folks who know them best! We know everrryyything about these cats and we’re always happy to share! It’s also worth considering the time of day – cats are most active at dawn and dusk, so afternoons may be better for calmer sleepy kitties, while nighttime or morning may be more playful!”